Steve is a former senior military strategist with 28 years service within the US Army, now a writer and speaker with a passion for developing and mentoring the next generation of thinking leaders, he is a founding member of the Military Writers Guild. His writing focuses on issues of foreign policy, national security, strategy and planning, leadership and leader development.
The final clash between good and evil was a long time coming.
From the Battle of Blackwater to the Battle of the Bastards, from the Battle of Castle Black to the Siege of Winterfell, Game of Thrones slowly, steadily marched in step toward the climactic endgame battle at King’s Landing.
Even in defeat, Daenerys can be formidable, and on the heels of a series of Leeroy Jenkins missteps in her march on the Red Keep, she still possessed an otherworldly – and seemingly unexplainable – confidence.
“I don’t have love here, only fear… Let it be fear, then.” – Daenerys Targaryen
With a fiery execution of Lord Varys and a chilling warning to Tyrion (“The next time you fail me will be the last time you fail me.”) Daenerys foreshadows the battle to come. She feels alone, vulnerable, and rejected – apparently, Jon’s love for his aunt has its limits.
This will not be a contest for the hearts and minds of the citizens of King’s Landing.
Even as her army prepares to do battle with the sellswords of the Golden Company and the Iron Fleet waits at anchor in Blackwater Bay, Daenerys proves that the series writers at least have a passing knowledge of air combat manoeuvre.
With the sun at her back, she rides Drogon with the hell-bent vengeance of an experienced fighter pilot, laying waste to the Iron Fleet while subsequently destroying the scorpion batteries lining the stone walls of King’s Landing.
In moments, Drogon – who appears to have learned to “get small” when exposed to enemy fire – sweeps down upon the gates of the city, annihilating the Golden Company in the process.
The rout is on, the battle is over, and the bells of surrender peal across King’s Landing.
Sitting astride Drogon with tears in her eyes, Daenerys surveys the scene below. Noncombatants are streaming toward the gates. The last forces of King’s Landing have dropped their weapons in surrender. The Red Keep is undefended, and the Iron Throne is within her grasp. The battle is won.
Or is it?
The daughter of the Mad King has a number of titles to her name: Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea; Breaker of Chains; Mother of Dragons and Protector of the Seven Kingdoms. Of all the titles bestowed upon Daenerys, the last one proves most telling.
Plato once famously said: “This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears, he is a protector.” The final transformation is complete – the Mad Queen cometh.
In a moment reminiscent of the Roman destruction of Carthage after the end of the Third Punic War, Daenerys proceeds to execute her own scorched-earth policy on King’s Landing, destroying everything and everyone in her wake.
This is no longer about assuming the Iron Throne, it is about doling out seven-and-a-half seasons of pent-up anger, frustration, jealousy, and good, old-fashioned revenge.
Astride the largest and most formidable of the dragons, Daenerys rains down vengeance on a panicked and chaotic city, sweeping from one end of King’s Landing to the other, obliterating everything in her path until nothing is left standing, not even the Red Keep.
Anyone who thought Game of Thrones would end with a climactic battle between good and evil will not be disappointed. Anyone who expected that battle to be between Daenerys and Cersei will have a long week ahead of them. The real battle for the Iron Throne is still to come.